By far the easiest way to transfer VHS to DVD at home is with a VHS to DVD recorder. Just pop in your old VHS tape, a blank DVD and hit record! Job done.
However there are a couple of reasons why a VHS to DVD machine might not be the best idea…
- The DVDs you create will likely get scratched, damaged and eventually degrade themselves.
- Aside from VHS, you probably have other camcorder tapes you’d like to convert – Hi8, video8, VHS-C, miniDV, etc.
What you actually need is a DVD plus a damage-proof digital file that will last forever.
With that in mind, here’s my simple and cost-effective 3-step process to transfer your VHS to DVD that will have your memories both watchable AND preserved for generations to come…
1. GET A VHS PLAYER
You’ll need a VHS player or a camcorder to playout whatever formats you have. The difference between a £50 and £200 player is VERY noticeable. If you don’t wan’t a dark, grainy picture or bad audio feedback – make sure you have a good unit.
Unless recently refurbished, you’ll also need to clean it. Take the top off your VCR and you’ll notice tiny spike-like cylinders (tape feeders) and a circular spinning device (the video head). These are all the surfaces that the tape comes into contact with – which you should clean.
Dip a synthetic cotton swab in isopropyl alcohol and give it a wipe (so not dripping). Carefully wipe down the tiny cylinders and repeat the process with a new swab for the video head.
For camcorders, use a head-cleaning tape, but make sure not to over use as it may then cause damage to your camera.
Try a sacrificial VHS tape out before your home movies. Analogue technology is temperamental at the best of times and the last thing you want is a faulty recorder chewing up your precious memories.
🔥 Hot Tip
Check your tapes for mould. If you see any green on the edge of your tapes, it can cause them to stick and snap during playback.
This handy guide tells you how to clean your tapes: https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-VHS-Tapes – just remember to wear a dust mask in a well ventilated area as mould can be toxic!
2. GET A CAPTURE DEVICE
Now you need a converter which will allow your computer to recognise and display analogue signals.
You want to make sure you purchase a VHS to Digital converter as opposed to a VHS to DVD converter, which should come bundled with a program to convert your files.
Remember – to preserve your memories properly you’ll first want digital copies before burning them onto DVD. Digital copies don’t get scratched! I’ve had success with Vidbox in the past, but check the reviews on amazon or ask for a recommendation in your local electronics store.
Of course – if not already on your mac or PC – you’ll also need a DVD burner and to download some DVD burning software.
3. CONVERT YOUR VHS TO DVD!
Whatever converter and software you choose, simply follow the instructions to capture your files.
Open up your DVD burning software and follow instructions to burn your files in to DVD. Voila!
🔥 Hot Tip
Analogue is temperamental. So are cheap converters. If you get a bad picture the first time, play through again. You may just get a better picture the second time.
🔥 Hot Tip
It can take a little while to burn a DVD, so make sure your computer isn’t in sleep mode – otherwise it will interrupt the process half way through and you’ll have to start again!
CONCLUSION – DO IT YOURSELF?
Needs must. If you have a lot of tapes and just don’t have the money to invest in a professional VHS to DVD service – do it yourself!
Put a weekend aside and make it a project. Inevitably there will be trouble shooting. And tapes transfer in real time, which means if it’s a 3 hour tape it will take a bit longer than 3 hours to fully process the VHS to DVD transfer.
Also, make sure it is actually cheaper! If you need to buy a new VCR, VHS to Digital converter and DVD burner it may not be the cost effective option. And that’s before the cost in paracetamol for the headaches! 🤕
To ensure a superior quality transfer, avoid snapped tape – and any migraines – we’re here to help!
We collect and deliver across the UK and are significantly cheaper than the high street. We also scan photos to digital, slides to digital and cinefilm to DVD and digital.
What makes us unique is our background in television and storytelling. Aside from high-quality transfers, you’ll receive a beautiful cinematic highlight film of all your fondest and funniest memories – at no extra cost. If you’d like to know more, all you need to do is get in touch!